JIS News

Health and Environment Minister, Rudyard Spencer has said that concerns raised in media reports that the Government is moving to “fast track” legislation to legalize abortion in Jamaica had no basis.
Speaking to journalists at a media briefing at Jamaica House on Friday (February 8), Mr. Spencer said that contrary to the reports, no Bill to this effect has been tabled in Parliament, adding that the government was “neither pro nor anti-abortion” at this time.
“I found it very discouraging when I heard on the radio yesterday (Thursday, February 7) that the government was trying to fast track this (abortion) Bill. What was laid in the House was a report, because a particular group of people wanted exhaustive discussion on the matter, and the Ministry of Health advised that we would facilitate those discussions. And so, after the report was tabled in Parliament, we asked for a committee comprising members from the Senate and the House,” Mr. Spencer outlined. This committee is expected to examine the report and facilitate discussions, which will include input from the public.
He said that the Leader of Government Business in the House consulted with his Opposition counterpart on the committee’s composition, adding that the “House named the committee last week Tuesday, and we are awaiting the recommendations (for members) from the Senate.”
“It is my understanding that the Senate has named the members and I am sure that they (names) will come to Parliament on Tuesday,” the Health Minister said.
Mr. Spencer said the process of deliberations and discussions will also incorporate public fora, to be undertaken islandwide, for which the services of a facilitator have been secured.
Responding to questions about how the matter would be treated by the House after the deliberations, and the likely decision to be taken, Mr. Spencer said he expected the members to take a conscience vote on it. “Whatever that vote is, whatever the decision is, I’m sure the government will abide by that decision,” Mr. Spencer said.

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